I’m often asked by overworked non-profit organizations and small businesses how they can take advantage of the public relations opportunities that they feel are consistently passing them by.

The answer is proactive planning. The planning process will take time and a good deal of work, but once you have a system in place, you will be set up to capture PR opportunities as they arise.

  • Understand your communications capabilities. What tools do you have in place? Which tools do you need that you can effectively manage? Once you determine this, set up a routine for how you use them. For example:
    • Post to social media every day
    • Send a press release once a month
    • Send a newsletter once a month
    • Send a Constant Contact message once a week
  • Create a point person. Have point people who are responsible for each of these tools, as well as back-ups so you can still have activity in case your social media person is sick or going on a vacation.
  • Pick the right people to put out your message. Anyone issuing any message on behalf of your non-profit or business is acting as your ambassador to the public. That person must know who you are as an organization and what you stand for inside and out. On the flip side, the person must also be given the authority to speak so that they can respond immediately when asked questions, allowing your constituency to feel as though you are responsive.
  • Find the things your audience wants to know about. Everyone in your organization should start thinking about what they do every day in terms of who would want to know about it and why. Every staffer is working on something of value and interest to someone!
  • Put protocols in place. Make sure your staff knows how to get information about what they are doing to the people responsible for communicating. You may think you’re too small to need protocols. List everything that the people in your office are working on right now. Chances are you cannot do it because business happens constantly and each of you has your own responsibilities. Protocols keep things from falling through the cracks!
  • Formalize your planning. You may not be doing formal weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly planning for your non-profit or business, but you likely do it informally at staff meeting and in hallways. Attempt to formalize that and incorporate communications into that planning process. Making messaging a part of those conversations will help you get the word out quickly and stay on top of publicity opportunities.